As the those following the process closely know, at the very end of June the U.S. Senate came one vote shy of advancing a six-month extension of unemployment benefits. It just so happens that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) had passed away just two days earlier, meaning that the Democrats had one less member than usual. Now all eyes are on West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, who must name Byrd's interim replacement. As recently as this morning, it seemed that the appointment would be made early next week (OpenCongress helpfully lays out all the subsequent steps that will need to be taken once the 60 votes are in place). But later in the day Manchin indicated that he is going to hold off naming his pick until the state legislature has convened for a special session. Therefore, the "Manchin candidate" might not be in place until sometime the following week. This means the waiting game continues for the thousands and thousands of jobless Americans whose federal aid expires with each passing day.
Meanwhile, here in Illinois, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk explained his opposition to the extension by citing its effect on the federal deficit. Of course, one of the most "deficit-obsessed" think tanks in Washington -- the Concord Coalition -- disagrees with Kirk on this point, arguing that such concerns are totally unwarranted in this case.